Zoe, a 4 year old spayed female hound mix, presented for inappropriate urination. The owners noticed she was asking to go outside more frequently, and were concerned that she was beginning to have urinary accidents in the house. She was otherwise doing fine at home. Her physical exam was unremarkable. Causes of inappropriate urination and frequent urination were discussed with the owners and diagnostic testing was recommended. An ultrasound of the bladder was performed, which was unremarkable. The ultrasound was then used to locate the bladder and guide insertion of a needle into it to collect a sterile urine sample. The urine sample was submitted for a urinalysis, urine culture and antibiotic sensitivity testing. The urinalysis showed the presence of inflammation and bacteria within the sample and a subsequent urine culture grew E. coli. Zoe was diagnosed with a UTI. Zoe’s case is very typical for that of a dog with an uncomplicated urinary tract infection (UTI).
Patients with UTIs typically display increased frequency of urination, inappropriate urination, and occasionally blood is noted in the urine. It is important to rule out other causes of inappropriate urination, since other disease processes can mimic the types of signs seen with UTIs. These include things like urinary stones, tumors, organ dysfunction and some types of systemic disease. Uncomplicated UTIs are relatively common in female dogs and relatively uncommon in male dogs. E. coli is the most commonly cultured organism in urine samples from affected animals and is typically the result of an ascending bacterial infection.
The fact that the majority of dogs diagnosed with UTIs are female most likely owes to the truncated urethral anatomy of female vs. male urogenital tracts. Zoe ended up being prescribed a 1 week course of an antibiotic chosen based on the bacteria’s antibiotic sensitivity testing. Since that time her urination patterns have returned to normal and she has not had any additional accidents per the owners.
Jennifer Sinese, DVM